Q factors review in Rockerilla magazine (Italy)
CHAIN D.L.K review
Though to the casual observer this would appear to be a diverse 10-track electronica album, the “a mixtape” distinction is here to justify this as a ‘bits and pieces’ collection of remastered and remixed material old and new, but not a ‘real’ album which is still forthcoming. But frankly if it looks like an album, walks like an album, quacks like an album… let’s review it as an album, albeit an album that’s almost absurdly diverse.
The opening “Drowning Mind” is a cacophonous bit of cut-up sample layering which gradually opens up into something that’s a sort of electronica prog rock of warped guitars, oddly time-signatured bassline and drum patterns that start simple and gradually get crazier. This set-up is revisited somewhat in “Waiting Room Blues”.
Tracks like “Hownow” and “Just Get It” use a similar palette with a more laidback and far more jazzy attitude, frittering around on the quirky side of lounge music almost. This is brought into darker territory with “D’Espoir De Mourir” which stays downtempo but adds just a hint of both industry and threat.
A little less appealing to my taste, “Loveflower” ups the guitar content with shades of UNKLE, and feels like a throwback to the 90’s guitar-based-trip-hop bands if I’m being generous (State Of Grace were one of my faves), or like a limp Noel Gallagher instrumental if I’m being harsh. It’s the slightly Delerium-esque vocal that makes this one worth a listen. Again this style comes around again on “Push ‘n Hold”, this time rounded out by a near-ambient intro and spoken-word male vocals that keep things rolling very nicely.
“Lost Love Cries” is particularly notable, taking a liquid drum’n’bass approach, the familiar arrangement of rolling bassline, mellow piano, crisp drums and melancholic female vocal but done to an extremely high standard and definitely a track for fans of soft d&b to check out. Final tracks “When & Where” and “Ombres Sur La Lone” drop firmly into ambient territory with lovely use of female vocal tones, a very comforting wrap-up- hypothetically, let’s say, a very good way to wrap up an album, if this were an album, which apparently it isn’t...
It’s difficult to know where to put this release. The closest comparison I can think of is Future Sound Of London, but that’s because their material (including under aliases) is so diverse as well that it barely qualifies as a comparison. It’s rich and deeply interesting electronica with a massive variety of sounds and influences and if this really is a prelude to an album rather than a ‘real’ album, it bodes extremely well for the material to come.
To highlight the ‘remix album’ status of the release, each track has a remix title, though I’ve only mentioned the central titles above for brevity.
DaMusic webzine review (Belgium - Flemish) - with google translation
Google translation of the review
Let's be honest. We are not a fan of remix plates. The probability of songs that appeared at the original is great; the chances of consistency or a constant quality are almost non-existent. Nuancering: In the case of this British Duo Amp's extra time to finally release a new studio album, the group holds the ropes firmly in their own hands.
The remixers and editors on this ten track record are confidants; guest musicians, who have already stepped into the project, or just the band itself. And then you get a whole different story. Thus, the fully-featured 'Q Factors' contains a beautiful evolution and captures the album to that recognizable Amp-sound.
That sound can be situated at a crossroads between shoegaze, ambient and essential psychedelics. But then again with industrial downtemporits or mechanical loops, in which both sliding organ and guitar tunes and Karine Charff's lofty vocal sound well. Indeed, this is silence pur song (Seefeel somebody?).
Thanks to the skilled operations of Amp-relatives, which began since the year 2000, that initially sounds wild and mechanical; in open-minded drowning mind with a kind of avant-garde noise of guessing guitar samplers, drones and dazzling sizzling rhythms at a high pace. And that compulsive, noisy character lasts for a while, even through shuffling drum'n'bassbeats with the up and down swinging basses. A truly impressive Loveflower - or at least Amp's own studio mix of that song - completely crowns the rhythmic samples of rattling chains, guitar loops and rever effects that together form a persistent sound experience.
More and more, that shoegazer character takes over the upper hand, which is initially only present in a distant background galaxy. Swift and dreamy in an extremely mysterious Just Get It in which Donald Ross Skinner draws a wave of guitar sculptures and desolate harmonica sounds over Charff's high, incomprehensible vocals; or perhaps the most in a minimalist ambient moment (D'Espoir De Mourir) in which Olivier Gauthier filters melody and French-speaking (!) vocals far away in a dominant, imposing noise; without losing the wire of course.
And so, Amp is already overtaking and pushing forward the anticipation of a new record for six years. Do not forget to let the ladder up a bit, Karine and Richard!
Original DaMusic - review
Laten we eerlijk zijn. We zijn geen fan van remixplaten. De kans op songs, die verbleken bij het origineel, is groot; de kans op samenhang of een constante kwaliteit quasi onbestaande. Nuancering: in het geval van dit tussendoortje waarmee het Britse duo Amp zich wat extra tijd gunt om eindelijk een nieuwe studioplaat uit te brengen, houdt de groep de touwtjes stevig in eigen handen.
De remixers en bewerkers op dit tien tracks tellende schijfje zijn immers vertrouwelingen; gastmuzikanten, die al eerder in het project stapten, of gewoonweg de band zelf. En dan krijg je een heel ander verhaal. Zo bevat het geheel in eigen beheer uitgebrachte ‘Q Factors’ een mooie evolutie en houdt het album vast aan die zo herkenbare Amp-sound.
Die sound is te situeren op een kruispunt tussen shoegaze, ambient en etherische psychedelica. Maar dan toch ook weer met industriële downtemporitmen of mechanische loops, waarin zowel glijdende orgel- en gitaartonen als de verheven zang van Karine Charff goed gedijt. Inderdaad, dit is zweverigheid pur sang (Seefeel iemand?).
Dankzij de vakkundige bewerkingen van Amp-aanverwanten, die al vanaf het jaar 2000 aanvingen, klinkt dat aanvankelijk wat wild en mechanisch; in opener Drowning Mind (Feedback Overload) met een soort van avantgardistische noise van door elkaar gierende gitaarsamples, drones en spichtig sissende ritmen aan een hoog tempo. En dat dwangmatige, luidruchtige karakter houdt nog een tijdje aan, zelfs via schuifelende drum’n’bassbeats met die op- en neer wandelende, zoemende bassen. Een ronduit indrukwekkend Loveflower – of althans Amps eigen studiomix van dat nummer – spant helemaal de kroon met de ritmische samples van ratelende kettingen, gitaarloops en reverbeffecten die samen een persistente geluidservaring vormen.
Meer en meer neemt dan dat ijle shoegazer-karakter de overhand, dat aanvankelijk slechts aanwezig is in een verre achtergrondgalm. Zweverig en dromerig in een uitermate mysterieus Just Get It waarin Donald Ross Skinner een golf van gitaarscapes en desolate harmonicaklanken over de hoge, onverstaanbare zangfrasen van Charff drapeert; of misschien nog het meest in een minimalistisch ambientmoment (D’Espoir De Mourir) waarin Olivier Gauthier melodie en Franstalige (!) zang ver weg filtert in een overheersende, imposante ruis; zonder de draad te verliezen natuurlijk.
En zo weet Amp toch weer te overdonderen en de al zes jaar aanslepende verwachting op een nieuwe plaat vooruit te schuiven. Besef wel dat jullie de lat hiermee nog een stukje hoger leggen, Karine en Richard!
Adverse Effect magazine - Q factors review
AMP Q Factors (A Mixtape) CD (Ampbase.net, 2017)
Collecting ten mixes of Amp material recorded between 2000 and 2017, Q Factors may not necessarily hint at an overly prolific period for this London-based duo who last appeared on (physical) record nine years ago, but at least goes some way towards illustrating they didn't disappear completely into hibernation. Anybody familiar with Amp will know they once formed an integral part of the landscape that blurred the lines between post-rock, shimmering atmospherics, drone-rock and even ventures through more abstract divergences. The fact they were proudly housed by US label Kranky back in the late 1990s doubtlessly says much about where their foundations lay. Since then, however, they've been through several labels before going the same way as many others and having decided to keep things in-house with their own label. It's the future for many artists now, especially if fortunate enough to have decent distribution and time spare enough to deal with sundry related matters. What about the music, however? Opening with a comparatively mad and frenetic 'Drowning Mind', mixed by longterm collaborator Marc Challans, you could be forgiven for noticing a knowing nod towards former bedfellows Third Eye Foundation, but the following couple of cuts slide through more familiar fare, melding cushioned beats with ambient tones and Karine's often hushed or gentle vocals. Jazz piano chords and some weighing in with subdued drum 'n' bass embellish proceedings and although it's all a bit '90s it's a neat example of rock music sliding into the chill-zone.
Fourth song, 'Loveflower', mixed by the usually more experimental Amp side project, Amp Studio, takes on some tempered post-industrial sounds before evolving into the kinda magical pop the group are known for. This later intensifies and splices some carefully controlled noise, proving itself to be a highlight I'm sure would benefit greatly from being blasted over a PA in a huge space. I'm sure it'd sound amazing live, too. Further blending of stuttering rhythms, tonal glaze, shimmering hues and buried vocals constitutes the majority of the other tracks, sometimes recalling Cocteau Twins, but what makes Amp stand out is the little detours to more abstract realms. Always a presence anyway, these especially take hold on another Amp Studio mix, 'Push 'n' Hold', itself setting the bar for great ways forward, and the haunting 'When & Where', mixed by Jon Attwood's Yellow6 project.
'Ombres Sur La Lune', by Ladder to Royale, serves a rather sedate, tho' no less hazy, ending to the album, once again proving that for a group noted for a certain palette in their approach to music, Amp are graced with a lot of movement within it that sometimes bursts out of the seams. Next to their absence of recent years, this collection shows that all the components that drive them are far from diminished. (RJ)
AMP - Q FACTORS (A MIXTAPE) (CD by Ampbase)
Like I said in the previous review of an AMP release there are weeks that I don’t think of them (see Vital Weekly 1062) and so it escaped my attention they are working on a new CD and while waiting we are served with ‘Q Factors (A Mixtape)’. “A collection of mixes, in the remix style, this release was first conceived in 2000 and has very slowly evolved, until the start of this year when the final tracks were finished”, which seems like a very long time indeed. I read all the information, listened to the music and realized I am just not very well informed; or not enough that is. There is reference for each track to people that were a member, or (re-)mixer of some kind, or friend of the band (a duo) of some kind. Some of these pieces might have been released elsewhere, or these might be alternative mixes. Whatever is the case, the music on this release, ten long songs, is all quite rhythmic. And here comes my problem about the band; I must admit I didn’t expect AMP’s music to be so rhythmic and electronic, even when a guitar is not far away. There are broken beats, rock beats, trip hop beats and Richard AMP’s guitar sometimes meandering about, rocking our, do the all ambient trick, but beats seem to be the most important feature just as much as Karine Charff’s voice, sometimes drenched with sound effects and buried melancholic deep in the mix. So, in that respect, I am not only surprised, but hence there am me thinking not knowing where to place AMP, as a group. It is a most lovely release, that much is sure, even when it seemed a bit too far off the daily Vital digest. It taps for me too much in the world of hip beats that I don’t consider all too interesting myself. I like AMP to be moody, melancholic, with or without a rhythm I guess, with buried vocals, ambient guitars and a trippy sound; just as they do ‘Push ’n Hold’, one of the few pieces that doesn’t seem to be a remix of any kind. Also the beatless remixes by Yellow6 and Ladder To Royale are highly textured and most enjoyable, all of these to be found towards the end of the release. I am wondering what the new CD will be like! (FdW)
vital weekly 1105
Here is an interview Amp did via email, we can't remember what mag/zine it was for, but its a fun read, enjoy...
1) Describe your current environment.
A found object coffee table, stone circle, soft toys, night-lights. Surrounded by sweet exotic aroma.
2) Bristol? Montpellier? Cassette Story? Describe how you met.
They are connections to the names mentioned; we have spent times in Bristol where our friends lived, when ‘FSA’ was there, as well as the ‘third eye foundation’. Montpellier is where I’m from in France, I landed in London in 1991… The cassette- story leads to Richard and West- Kensington London when in 1994 we bumped into each other in Art College. Richard gave me this tape called ‘Green sky blue tree’ and a book titled ‘hot dog danger zone’, they are the two titles that united the pair of us and started AMP.
3) I've seen Richard play guitar with a knife. Can you tell me about any other sonic experiments you've made?
A broken 4tracks which he still uses, also disconnected an old sofa we got from our friends and turned it into a percussion instrument along with a couple of table legs… anything we hear per chance that sounds good enough is recorded.
4) There's a quote in the reviews wherein Richard talks about being influenced by paintings as much as music. Can you expand on this?
I found that visuals and sounds work in harmony together, a piece of music can evoke various images or landscapes, moods and colours it also has the power to affect your senses from the moment you hear it. The same applies to paintings, a stroke adds a note, a note adds a stroke. Layers on layers… marks and colours come together in unison…
5) In my research I found Amp being compared to Popol Vuh, My Bloody Valentine, &c. Why not Varese, Eno, Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O ?
I agree, to a degree…being compared to these artists, only gives a reference point somewhere in our music, but never an acute picture of what AMP is. Why not indeed music for films going back to Q4? And if you hear these comparisons, why not.
6) How important is it for you to be in control of the product - specifically in relation to the artwork?
We think the visual has relevance to the music, but we are not that desperate when it comes to control.
7) Are my ears too big for my haircut?
8) Deus Ex Machina: at what point do you separate from the studio technology? Does the technology sometimes take over?
Our music is not technological, we join with the sounds, and we never separate from the sounds. Technology is always separate and throws on occasions beautiful spanners to our works, which we usually keep.
9) Listening to your recorded output I found myself "drawn in" to the music; how would you describe the Amp ambience?
People describe AMP variously; all people have a right to their opinions. For Richard it is all about ambience and vibe, but not about any particular vibe.
10) The painting inside the cover of Sirenes makes me giggle in a cheap horror movie style. One of yours? (You told me it was the other night - do you want to talk about the Goya reference here?)
Yes, it is Richard’s post-modern collage of a Goya painting.
11) Why are loops always beats or drones?
The answer is obvious.
12) Why do musicians prefer to discuss the size of their axe/audience/label advance/cock, rather than the emotional content of their "work"?
I don’t know any of these people.
13) Do you find the post-rock label a limitation on how you perceive your work?
What label? I don’t care about label!
14) Fuck, I just got dumped by text message. I need to go out and buy some alcohol. Want anything?
15) Bongoes - good or bad?
Depends on what you want.
16) How do you feel about decontextualisation? Is amalgamation a necessary part of a creative process?
Long words bore me, semiotics suck !
17) Would it worry you to be regarded as provocactive - or proactive?
Don’t play that game… I don’t give a fuck.
18) Why is politeness an underestimated faculty in the United Kingdom?
Same as above.
19) Scarborough Fayre: a hippy ambient renaissance, a loving folk reminiscence, a tune or joke?
It’s just a different interpretation of an old tune.
20) Stereolab: a hippy ambient renaissance, a loving pop recreation, attuned or a joke?
They are very clever people.
21) Have you discussed beforehand how you will answer these questions?
No, instead we’ve had fights about it.
22) Will you be answering them as a unit? Individually as you see fit? Alternately? An answer each even?
Half and half
23) Will you consider answering them again when I send you the edit and the second set, the follow up set, of questions?
Fuck off with that idea!
24)Duplication - an algorythmic progression or a repetition of allegory? Or just rhythms?
Algorithms are not duplication. They are integrated interpolative sets.
25) I noticed some references to the soundtrack Of “Forbidden Planet” on one of your albums (can’t specify which one right now – think it was “perception” but I left my notes at work… doh!) is this an indication of future directions, to work in multimedia?
Forbidden Planet had a good soundtrack, if I recall….................any references are only in your ‘perception’ though.
26) I get the impression that your work seems to loosely divide into two catagories: Light and Dark (in the sense of emotional colour). Is this a reflection of your outlook on the world?
It’s the yin and yang principle, the point is neither and both.
Here is what Terrascope Magazine said about All of Yesterday Tomorrow....
AMP – ALL OF YESTERDAY TOMORROW
(3x CD www.rroopp.com)
For the past 15 years Amp have been at the forefront of experimental sound, mixing drone, Kraut inspired improvisation, ambience and swirling pop brilliance into a heady and absorbing body of work that is touched with genius.
Featuring core duo of Richard Amp and Karine Charff, this triple CD gathers together unreleased songs, alternate versions, rare releases and other sonic goodies and is a treat for long term fans and new listeners alike.
Disc one opens with the previously unreleased “Sketch A Star”, a dense cloud of drone that rolls from the speakers and sucks you straight into Amps world. Originally released as a 7” single “Remember” is half noise, half beautiful pop song, a drifting slice of brilliance that shows the band were full of ideas right from the start.
At 10 minutes “Alightfarout” shows a distinct Coil influence with its slowly changing sonic palette and eerie vocals, whilst “There She Goes” is a short piece of melancholy psychedelia originally released in 1992 on a self-produced cassette. Featuring the welcome sound of acoustic guitar “A Small Light” is another unreleased gem Featuring the bands first collaboration with Marc Challans (Fraud).
On “ICU” some murky dub infested beats cut through the drone tendencies to offer a different perspective, although as with the rest of the album, it is definitely Amp that is making the noise. More rhythms can be heard on the deep space explorations of “Frise” which sound like an outtake from “7-Up” (Ashra Tempel/T.Leary), before disc one finally closes with the mellow strangeness of “Fine Day”, recorded in 2005 and one of my favourite pieces.
One of the things that I find appealing about this album is the fact that the tracks are not in chronological order, meaning that you have to wait until the second track on disc two before you hear “Get There” the flipside to “Remember”, well worth the wait it is too, another distorted psych-pop gem to savour.
Recorded in 1999 but only ever released on a compilation (Fuzzy Boombox V.2 2004) “Standing In The Darkest Corner Of The Room” is a brooding slice of ambience and spoken word that creeps up the spine with devilish intent, whilst “Ipso Factum” is a much warmer slice of ambience that gently soothes the soul.
Highlight of disc two is the long electronic squall of “Lutin2”, a psychedelic wave of down trodden sounds and distorted beats, that displays the influence of early electronic pioneers such as Tangerine Dream or Kraftwerk. By contrast “Le Revenant”, featuring piano from John Cooper (who played with Richard in The Secret Garden) is a minimalist sound poem of haunting beauty, with the vocals of Karine adding the perfect touch of mystery.
With a passing nod to Aphex Twin and other electronic artists who managed to leave the dance scene in favour of something more cerebral, The insistent beats of “Miles’N” show another subtle change in the sound, the drones lost to the chattering noise that overlays it, creating an unsettling groove that refuses to leave you.
Opening disc three “Ombres” seems to be possibly the quintessential Amp track, with coil-esque vocals, electronic washes and insistent electronics beat all merging into a perfect whole, this has been a constant on my stereo for a while now. Featuring a Feedback Coda from Dave Pearce, “Moon Tree” is the oldest piece on the album, recorded in 1990-1991, and is a wonderfully dramatic drone that demands to be heard at high volume in a darkened room. In fact, that course of action is recommended for the whole of this album, allowing for complete concentration and enabling the listener to lose themselves completely in the ever-changing sonic textures.
The final disc contains, amongst its many delights, a trio of cover versions, starting with a fucked-up reading of “Scarborough Fair”, the vocals almost lost in the electronic mist. That same mist threatens to engulf the free-floating experience of “Seagreen Serenades” (Silver Apples), before the unholy trio is ended with a cover of “So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears)”, (Spacemen 3) with this version not straying too far from the original.
After an exhilarating ride across three disc, the album is closed with two unreleased tracks, the free form electronic drift of “Wild Wine Gaze” which was specifically mixed for this compilation, and the 10 minute cosmic drone of “When You Have Love” which sums up all that has gone before, slowly fading into nothing, the ringing in your ears the perfect thing to listen to after such a intense trip.
Given the amount of music on this disc, it is a testament to the playful inventiveness and exploratory spirit of Amp that it is easy to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, never a moment lost, never a song outstaying its welcome. An album you will still be playing in twenty years time.